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Published on April 17th, 2017 | by Guest Contributor

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UK Government Admits Natural Gas Is Substituting For Cheap Renewables

April 17th, 2017 by  

Originally published on Dave Toke’s Green Energy Blog.

In the latest Government forward energy projections, the Government implicitly admits that reductions in contracts to be awarded for renewable energy are to be replaced by more generation from natural gas plants.

You can see an analysis by Carbon Brief of the Government’s latest projections. The Government recognizes that the costs of renewables have continued to fall, but for reasons that Carbon Brief has been unable to find out (from Government) the Government has cut back its previous projected growth in renewable energy.

Well, I can tell you why the Government has cut back its projections of renewable energy even though onshore wind and onshore solar have become the cheapest electricity supply sources: the Government prefers more expensive, carbon emitting natural gas for political reasons. They much prefer seeing UK natural gas reserves run down to having windfarms and solar farms built.

However the Government has even let the cat out of the back. Carbon Brief (CB) explains this, taking readings from from the latest political tealeaves (posing as models) generated by the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). So says CB’s Simon Evans:

‘Finally, in the latest BEIS projections, the output of renewables dips in the early 2020s. BEIS says: “This is due to a number of factors, including the temporary increase in gas generation to maintain system flexibility.” Consequently, gas output picks up the slack in the projections. See https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-dramatic-shift-uk-government-outlook-gas-clean-energy

I notice that Cornwall Energy Insight is saying that there is a possibility of a ‘technology neutral’ bidding round for renewable energy coming around soon for new renewable energy to be installed after 2020. http://www.cornwall-insight.com/newsroom/all-news/are-you-prepared-for-the-next-contracts-for-difference-allocation-round-

Technology neutral? Well, only in the sense that it’s a bit like a race when you go around and break the legs of the strongest runners before you start. Only technologies like offshore wind and tidal power will be allowed to compete for contracts. Onshore windfarms and solar farms would be barred.

I think it is quite funny when economists at large call for ‘technology neutral’ bidding auctions to supply electricity. It was only a few years ago it was assumed that this would lead to gas-fired power stations followed by nuclear power with renewable energy having to have a separate rather larger subsidy scheme for them to be economic. The wise consultants hired by the power industry establishment to justify their own existence would sneer at the alleged green fantasists like me for suggesting that this was not what would happen in the future! Now, though reality has turned out to be different from all those glossy consultants’ reports that the industry paid so much money for (note, I’m not talking about Cornwall Energy here!).

Today, separate, rather larger, subsidy schemes are reserved for nuclear power and ‘capacity markets’ for fossil fuel power schemes. These people need the subsidies, so much in the case of Hinkley C that not only is EDF to be paid loads more than onshore wind is getting paid per MWh (under the Renewables Obligation) but EDF, the developers, is also getting handouts from the French Government!

In fact, all onshore wind and solar need now is a level playing field with the rest. But instead they get nothing. Nix. Not a sausage. In fact, they are banned from being given any government contracts to supply electricity!

It rather reminds me of Ken Livingstone’s saying, ‘If voting changed anything they’d abolish it’. In this case of course you can read a parallel saying that ‘if technology neutral auctions of electricity contracts gave lots of opportunities to onshore wind and solar they would abolish them’ (for onshore wind and solar).

That’s precisely what they have done!

Reprinted with permission.


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